May 1 - Enroute, day 11

Date: 5-1-12
Time UTC: 0000
Lat/Long: S24deg05min/E155deg45min
Course: 264 T
Speed: 5.5 kn
Wind: SE 20
Seas: SE 10'
Cloud cover: 30%
Barometer: 1022
Sails: 2nd reef main; 50% genoa
Day 10 miles: 148
Avg speed: 6.2 kn
It was heavy weather sailing thru the night. Winds were 25-30 constant, with higher gusts; seas 10-12', breaking. Due to just a bit of variation in the direction the wind was coming from, we had a tough time holding our course; it took constant attention to the helm and a lot of adjusting of the steering lines as well as the sails to make it all work out. This morning has brought sunshine, and we're about 145 nm from our outside waypoint by Sandy Cape light, then it's another 50 miles or so to Bundaberg Port Marina where we're expecting Customs check in Thursday morning. We're a bit tired, otherwise all's well aboard.

Day 10 - One frontal passage, motoring, and heavy weather sailing

Date: 4-30-12
Time UTC: 0000
Lat/Long: S24deg13.8min/E158deg17.4min
Course: 280 T
Speed: 6.8 kn
Wind: SSW 25-28 kn
Seas: SSW 8-10'; breaking, a bit confused
Cloud cover: 20%
Barometer: 1016
Sails: 2nd reef main; 60% genoa
Day 9 miles: 112
Avg speed: 4.6 kn
We went thru another frontal system about 8 pm last night, resulting in very light winds and our having to motor sail at very slow speeds thru the entire night. The current was strong, as you can imagine water being funnelled thru two tiny reef areas with deep water between them. That was what we experienced going thru the channel between Capel Bank and Kelso Bank, and we fought hard to gain westing and cut the current at a more favorable angle to maintain boat speed. This morning the winds have picked up 20-30 knots, with confused, breaking seas. We're trying to keep the wind off our port aft quarter, which should become a bit easier as the wind backs around thru South and settles into the SE over the next 24 hours. It's heavy weather sailing, but Max (our Sailomat windvane) is taking it in his stride and all's well aboard.

April 29 - Day 9 Enroute to Bundaberg

Date: 4-29-12
Time UTC: 0000
Lat/Long: S24deg35min/E160deg01min
Course: 300 T
Speed: 6.5 kn
Wind: N-NNE 24-28
Seas: N-NNE 6-8'
Cloud cover: 100%
Barometer: 1018
Sails: 2nd reef main; 50% genoa
Day 139 miles:
Avg speed: 5.8 kn
In a few hours, we'll be going thru the slot between Capel Bank and Kelso Bank, then heading just a bit north of the rhumb line to Bundaberg as winds and comfort allow. Sue's pointed out that we're now in the Coral Sea; I'm not sure where the demarcation lat/long of the Tasman and Coral Sea is. You can see wind speeds have increased; we're on the northeast side of another frontal boundry and expecting heavy weather the rest of the way into Bundaberg as reinforced tradewinds re-establish. We're trying to keep wind and seas from 70 to 120 degrees off the bow.

April 28 - A bit of light air last night

Date: April 28
Time UTC: 0000
Lat/Long: S26deg14min/E161deg42min
Course: 325 T
Speed: 5.5 kn
Wind: ESE 10-12
Seas: ESE 4'
Cloud cover: 100%
Barometer: 1021
Sails: 2nd reef main; full genoa
Day 7 miles: 121
Avg speed: 5.0 kn
We had to motor all night in very light air but were able to set sail at 0730 this morning. The sun's glare is intense although it's about 100% cloud cover. We'll be heading up and over yet another low that's developed, of all places, in Bundaberg! The extra miles sailed will tack on at least another day to this passage, but the trade off is avoidance of the really crappy stuff. As is, we'll expect heavy winds, rain, possible thunderstorms and confused seas in another day or so. All's well aboard.

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Day 7 - We're thru the frontal passage; it's been a slow 24 hours

Date: 4-27-12
Time UTC: 0000
Lat/Long: S27deg24min/E163deg18min
Course: 320
Speed: 4.5-5
Wind: SW 12-15
Seas: SW6'
Cloud cover: 60%
Barometer: 1017
Sails: Full main, genoa, staysail
Day 6 miles: 110
Avg speed: 4.6 kn
Note: As of about 5 minutes ago, the wind seems to have backed more southerly; it's still a bit flukey - mostly SW, but it looks like change is coming. The frontal passage was pretty mild, with winds less than 25 knots, and brought very light winds behind it, confused seas, and two hours of motoring at two knots; going nowhere slowly. Hence our low noon to noon run mileage. The SW wind has been with us all night until just now, so our course is well north of our arbitrary rhumbline. Last night I figured it'd be easier to make for Port Moresby in Papau New Guinea, but patience is the name of the game here, and it was just a matter of time before the wind backed to South, and it's expected to continue to back to SE. The fishing pole is set, but no bites yet. All's well aboard.

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April 25 Day 5 - Enroute; awaiting the frontal passage

Date: 4-25-12
Time UTC: 0000
Lat/Long: S28deg18min/E164deg47min
Course: 240 T
Speed: 6.5 kn
Wind: NNW 20
Seas: NNW 6'
Cloud cover: 100%
Barometer: 1015
Sails: 2nd reef main; 75% genoa
Day 5 miles: 150
Avg speed: 6.3
We haven't gone completely thru the frontal boundry yet....We're making good speed, just not in the right direction! Every now and then the sun peeks thru; great for the solar panels, although we usually do fine with the ambient light of a completely overcast day. There's not really much else to report; all's well aboard. Our friends Kim & Sharon, along with their friend Harold as crew, are on the sv Georgia J, a Passport 47, and are doing fine also; they're about 150 nm ahead of us and should reach Port Bundaberg about one day before we do.

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April 25 - Day 4 - The value of AIS

We had a 0330 ship drill this morning. Here's the scene: It's a moonless night. We keep visual watch 24/7, and I'm on duty. Not much going on out there. Then the AIS alarm went off and I stared at the screen with the words "Collision Imminent" staring back at me. I have the Plotting Range parameter set for "24 nm Offshore," so figuring out what was going on had to be quick. The ship symbol on the screen was directly in front of us, then immediately changed to present off our starboard quarter; confusing to say the least. The ship itself was 886' length, 141' beam (!), draft 30'. It was coming directly at us at 12 knots, was less than 12 nm away, and the CPA (Closest Point of Approach) read 0.00 nm! I tried hailing on the VHF but got no answer. I put the masthead strobe light on and tried VHF again; same results. Meanwhile, we had diverted to starboard as well as we were able. Winds were 25 knots on our beam, which put us on a beat to windward, and seas were 10'. I tried another "Securite, Securite", Hello All Stations" call, and low and behold, received a reply from the ship bearing down on us. He said he could hardly see us in the conditions, and our AIS signal (we transmit as well as receive) was weak but coming in. When we got a bit closer, I could only make out his running lights, in spite of his behemoth size, intermittently in the swells. Whether he really knew we were around before my "Securite" call is a good question. I breathed a bit easier when we passed each other at about 2 miles distance. I've always maintained that having AIS aboard is cheap insurance. In this instance; it's proven that maxim again last night. We just recently upgraded to an AIS Transponder (in place of our old receiver only unit), and are quite happy we made the change. OK, deep breath now...Otherwise, the weather continues to be really good, and winds are mostly on the quarter. Last night we made our turn for the run into Bundaberg; it's now a 288 degree straight line from where we had gone north around Norfolk Island, and we have about 850 nm to go. All's well aboard.
Date: 4/25/12
Time UTC: 0000
Lat/Long: S28deg14min/E167deg24min
Course: 288 T
Speed: 6 kn
Wind: E, 18 kn
Seas: E, 8'
Cloud cover: 100%
Barometer: 1008
Sails: 2nd reef main; 90% genoa
Day 4 miles: 143
Avg speed: 6.0 kn

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April 24 Day 3, Enroute to Australia

Date: 24-04-12
Time UTC: 1200
Lat/Long: S29deg48min/E169deg14min
Course: 320T
Speed: 6kn
Wind: NE; 14-18kn
Sails: 2nd reef main/ 3/4 genoa
Seas: NE; 6'
Cloud cover: 10%; sunny
Barometer: 1015
Day 3 miles: 154
Avg speed: 6.4 kn
We've had another nice day sailing. Last night bought a few squalls, with winds to 29 knots, but they passed quickly. At sunset we had a few minutes of excitement when the new padeye on the boom, to which the 2nd reef line for the main attached, broke under load. At the same time, we were getting the pole down for changing wind conditions when the jaw stuck closed and wouldn't release the genoa sheet; the furling line around the Profurl drum jammed, and the AIS unit went off signaling a ship in our patch of the Tasman Sea. It was a bit of a run around for a few minutes as we sorted everything out, which we were, I'm happy to report, able to do just as the sun settled in the western sky. Always nice to do these things in the daylight. Today has been sunny skies and just a beautiful day sailing.

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April 23 - Day 2

Lat/Long: S31deg49min/E170deg51min
Course: 320T
Speed: 6.5 kn; saw one 8.5 kn reading when surfing down the face of a large wave
Wind: E-ENE 18-22, higher gusts
Sails: 2nd reef main; 3/4 genoa poled out
Seas: E 6-8'
Cloud cover: 50%; intermittant showers
Barometer: 1020
Day 2 miles: 153 nm
Avg speed: 6.4 kn
It was a beautiful, if somewhat boisterous, night sailing; no squall activity, and seas weren't too bad. We had a big albatross follow us for hours, along with a few other seabirds. A few ships passed us, and we hope the new AIS transceiver broadcast our position to them. Max (our Sailomat windvane) has done an admirable job steering the boat thruout. All's fine aboard.

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Sun April 22 - Enroute to Bundaberg, Australia - Day 1

What a nice departure from Opua! Check-out at Customs took just a few minutes and we raised anchor and motorsailed out the channel towards the entrance of the Bay of Islands. Dolphins came by to play alongside, and the sun was shining. We knew it would take a few days to get acclimated to sailing again; it's been six months land bound for us! We passed North Cape at night, and could see the beacon from the Cape Reinga lighthouse. Seas were a bit confused for a while, and there was lots of current, but we had no problems. Morning brought more sunshine and 15 knots of breeze off our quarter, so things are definitely looking good, at least for now! Note the high barometer reading below; NZ has been under a record high pressure area for a week now, and it looks like it will continue for at least a couple of more days. We're in the Tasman Sea now, and the weather cycles regularly every 5-7 days or so between the highs and lows that come across it. It's about 1355 nm from Opua to Bundaberg, so going thru a frontal system is almost guaranteed. We're relaxing right now, the pole's out, we're enjoying a new set of sails drawing...what a great way to start a long passage.
Lat/Long: S33deg40min/E172deg47min
Course: 305T
Speed: 5.5 kn
Wind: East, 15 kn
Seas: " , 8'
Cloud cover: 10%
Barometer: 1024
Day 1 miles: 129
Avg speed: 5.3 kn


April 29 - we've left the dock!

After berthing Infini at Opua Marina for 6 months, we have finally left the dock! We departed at slack tide and anchored near Pine Island. First job was to service and get the Tohatsus outboard motor working so we'd have dinghy transportation. After that, the watermaker was recommissioned, and testing of the water quality revealed very good results. We're on a roll. We then went to the Opua Cruising Club to attend a presentation by John Martin about So. Pac. weather. After, we visited with friends, had a few beers, and dinghied back to the boat. It sure feels different being at anchor! We have a few things to do tomorrow, but the BIG NEWS is that we're planning departure Sat. for Bundaberg, Australia. It's a 1355 nm run, and the weather window looks decent enough to go, so unless something comes up last minute, we'll be stored and departing NZ in two days! Hard to believe...

April 13 - We're in departure mode

There's lots of stuff happening in preparation for our departure to Australia. We figured it was better to do some of these upgrades and modifications to Infini here and now, so this last week finds us awaiting our new headsail and dodger, and we've made provisioning and fuel runs to Pahia and KeriKeri. There's a lot of activity in the marina and anchorage also; cruisers are coming to Opua from Whangerai and Aukland in preparation for departure to Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia or Australia. Yesterday afternoon the Island Cruising Association hosted their first get together in advance of these departures, the topic being medical preparation for leaving New Zealand. A local physician and pharmacist gave short presentations, and cruisers were able to request any of their prescription needs thru consultation with the doctor. What a convenient way to stock up our medical kit and replace a bunch of our expired meds! We've also noted an increase in the work load of the local trade shops and haul out facilities as cruisers get last minute work done on their boats. Everyone's keeping an eye out for a good weather window, and several boats we know have already departed the area.

April 10 - Our 5th Year Cruising Anniversary!

We've been living aboard and have been full time cruising for five years now! We continue to give thanks for the blessings of good health and being able to continue this lifestyle. We are still amazed at the generosity and diversity of the other cruising folks out here, and also derive great enjoyment meeting local peoples and sharing their cultures. Of course, most team efforts are supported by many others, and we'd like to again express our appreciation to our family and friends who are our "support crew" and lend practical and spiritual encouragement as we continue our meanderings around the oceans. This coming cruising season promises to be quite interesting. We've accelerated our path just a bit, and have decided to join the Sail Indonesia Rally which leaves Darwin July 28th; we're planning on being in Langkawi, Malaysia sometime in October. We've always been attracted to the many cultures, history, people and foods of SE Asia, and look forward to exploring the area in depth. Infini's systems continue to be refined and upgraded also, and she has been a splendid cruising home. This year marks the 14th year of our ownership of Infini, a 1979 Westsail 43, and she continues to provide a safe, stable, comfortable platform for open ocean cruising. We hope you've enjoyed reading our blog entries, and Sue continues to upload new picture albums of our adventures. Cheers!